tv Bloomberg Businessweek Debrief A Conversation With Robert Kraft Bloomberg July 2, 2017 2:30am-3:01am EDT
[wind whistling] ashlee: the year was 2047, and this is all that was left. ♪ ashlee: the great space wars between the muskavarians and the bezosites had depleted the earth of all its natural resources. the bitcoin virus and uber's robot chauffeurs had finished the job. the only signs that humans had ever been here were the
ramshackle buildings and the windmills that kept spinning and spinning with nothing to power. everyone had abandoned earth. everyone except for this man. ♪ ashlee: he was known as dezso molnar. he tore [beep] up. there is a modicum of truth in all of this. if you want to know what the world will look like when it is a rundown mess, you can head to the mojave desert. it is here that you will find some of the world's greatest -- or at least most eccentric -- inventors. >> this craft is the sexy beast. ashlee: pushing machines to their limits.
it is a place that froths with engineering passion, and it offers total freedom to relentless tinkerers. join me on a road trip across the mojave, from los angeles all the way to las vegas, as we meet people trying to change the future of cars -- >> we are self driving. ashlee: and to make space cheap and easy. >> we are working on point-to-point travel one day. ashlee: all on this episode of "hello world." silicon valley may be home to some of the biggest tech giants in the world, but it's being challenged like never before. crazy ch giuses have popped up a over the planet, making thgs thawill blow your mind. my name is ashlee vance. i am an author and journalist, and i am on a quest to find the most innovative tech creations
and meet the beautiful freaks behind them. >> "hello world." ♪ ashlee: for decades, l.a. has been home to two thriving communities of builders -- the people who design cars and the people who build spaceships. many of them work in polished studios and massive industrial buildings. but the man i am looking for works in a place like this. dezso, how are you? dezso: hey. ashlee: hey. good to see you, man. dezso: good to see you, too. ashlee: this is dezso molnar and this is where he keeps his toys. dezso: so when we're driving slow, we keep the landing gear down. once we hit the freeway and we are in in second gear, i will bring the wheels up. so, don't freak out when you hear that sound. [laughter] ashlee: dezso used to fly planes
in the air force. then he built rockets and rocket-powered cars. he has been in some bands. he has been rich. he has been poor. he is a free spirit who does whatever he wants. like a lot of angelenos, dezso often finds himself stuck for hours on the freeway, wishing there was a way to rise up and escape from the concrete prison. dezso: this is my first attempt at a flying car. the flying car as a development has often been mired in the idea that you have to make something for everybody and that you have to dumb it down so it is a consumer product to cut a few seconds off of somebody's commute. ♪ dezso: i don't have the objective of creating ubiquity. da vinci did one copy of the mona lisa, and it wasn't for everybody, and it wasn't like you had to make 500 of them, but it still has value.
and i see a lot of the machines that have been made as art pieces. i think what they need is a gallery right now to help drive interest in the development. ashlee: to drum up that interest, dezso soon plans to start a flying car racing league in the mojave desert. there is a long-standing marriage between l.a. and the mojave. it is in l.a. where engineers go about their day jobs in fancy offices, and it's in the mojave where the folks who can never stop eerimenting go to try out their ideas on the weekends. mohave is sort of -- what? it's like the playground, or testbed. dezso: it's about the people you want to meet as opposed to the people that you don't need. those are the freaks that matter to me, the ones that want to go out there and take the 300 mile per hour jet car out on a saturday afternoon. ashlee: yeah. i will see you at the freaks.
dezso: okay. you can join the club. ♪ ashlee: mojave is about a two-hour drive into the california desert from los angeles. and most of that time is spent staring at bumpers. >> god, this traffic sucks. ashlee: you deal with this and, yes, the flying car seems like a great idea. but as we made our way out into the badlands, the reality of zipping across the desert in a loose assembly of metal pipes and good intentions felt somewhere between stupid and terrifying. the truth, though, is that much of this technology is tried and true. the first part of dezso's flying car plan hinges on this gyrocopter. ♪ ashlee: these types of vehicles
have been flying since the 1920's. they are cheap, relatively easy to build, and pretty reliable. instead of running on a motor, the propeller gets its lift from the wind as the craft goes forward. it's incredible, man. it's crazy. you just get, like, this totally different perspective. if the engine cuts out, the copter will just flutter down to the ground, like a leaf falling out of a tree. ♪ ashlee: my adrenaline was pumping right before we took off, but, you know, like the second we were in the air, i mean, you just -- dezso: there is a lot to see. it is pretty here. ashlee: you sort of forget about it all. yeah. dezso: and as you saw, obviously we can land anywhere out here. so, it is the perfect place. ashlee: yeah. the gyrocopter takes care of the up part of the flying car puzzle, but you still need something to deal with the roads. for that, dezso has this slick concept vehicle.
the goal is to marry the two and have something that turns just about any road into a runway. when that happens, ok, if that happens, the select few willing to give it a go will taste freedom, while the rest of us rot on the 405. dezso: i think that the reality is that a lot of people in this world like to have some kind of an advantage in life, no matter what they are doing, whether it is a bigger stereo or a, you know, a swimming pool at their house. but the reality is that, in nature, all birds can walk, all bugs that fly have legs, and they can fold their wings up on their back. they survive in different environments because they have adapted to get through them. to say that we are going to spend 40 billion hours a year in the united states sitting in traffic, saying that, "well, that no one will ever have one of these." i don't really care if that is the party line. ♪ dezso: you can make something
ashlee: out here in the mojave, there is testing rockets and then there is testing rockets. >> to be a kick ass rocket company, you need to test a lot. the folks who succeed are able to iterate quickly. ashlee: many of america's top rocketeers work here, the mojave airport, which is situated smack dab in the center of mojave the town. this is where the big kids play with fire, and the pyromaniacs over at virgin galactic hope to soon offer tourists a chance to visit space for about $250,000 per ticket -- or about twice that on stubhub. ♪
ashlee: george whiteside is a nasa veteran who serves as the ceo of virgin galactic. he gave me a tour of their operation, which includes a test stand for breaking in rocket engines. george: nature does not like what we are trying to do here. the art of this is taking something that nature does not want and sort of bending it into an outcome. ashlee: virgin's spaceship will be carried into the air underneath a plane. the spaceship will then fire up its own thrusters and head for the heavens. it's a complex system, and there are few places on earth where you can work out the kinks. george: it's the only place in the united states where you can design, manufacture, and test a rocket motor, and then integrate it on a spaceship and fly it into space. ashlee: right. george: you know, this is -- this is really the frontier of american aerospace. ashlee: virgin wants to offer more than just a joyride. it thinks people visiting space,
even for just a few minutes, will have a profound effect on how we all see our planet. george: if we have 700 people, order of magnitude, signed up to go on our spaceship, that is more than all the people who have been to space in 50 years. but they will go back to communities all over the world, and they are going to bring that perspective with them. and i think that will have an important effect. ashlee: the story of virgin has been one of great promise and devastating setbacks. in 2014, the company's first spaceship crashed to the ground, killing the copilot and injuring the pilot. today at this press event, virgin hopes to restore confidence in its technology by unveiling spaceshiptwo, richard branson's attempt to resurrect the galactic empire from the ashes. ♪ ashlee: this one has taken more than 10 years. you are still not at the point where we are flying yet. how difficult has this business been compared to others? richard: it is rocket science. it is really difficult.
we are just reinventing the wheel completely and reinventing the technology. so, it has been tough, but we now have rockets that we know will take us to space. you know, we feel confident that we are finally very, very close to being there. ashlee: ever a good and devoted son, branson decorated the spaceship with his mother's likeness. and ever the good showman, he used the spaceship's unveiling as an excuse to throw a birthday party for his granddaughter. that is a bottle of milk made out of sugar and used for the christening. in 2014 after the accident, how close were you to calling it -- richard: i don't think i have ever given up on anything in life, but we would have been irresponsible not to ask the questions. ♪ richard: the important thing is not to hurry a program like this. the important thing is to get it right and make sure it is safe for people to go up and that we offer return tickets, not single tickets. ♪
♪ ashlee: it is the sort of invitation you wait a lifetime to receive. "come to the mojave," he said. we are camping out next to the trona pinnacles. "they are weird and beautiful," he says. here will be beers, and burgers, and tequila, and a bunch of gearheads and techno freaks hanging out together. we are going to show you how we are reinventing cars," he said, "and we are going to go spine-crushing fast." this is mouse mccoy. he is a sort of hot rod renaissance man with a vision, one where the cars of tomorrow are designed by artificial intelligence. mouse: right now we are in this phase where this stuff seemed like science fiction, but it is actually science fact.
like, we are living science fact right before our eyes, and to be part of it feels good, man. ashlee: mouse's latest venture is called hackrod. the goal is to blend human emotion and technology to spur an automotive revolution. to do this, mouse and his team measure everything they can. they wire up cars with dozens of sensors to see how the metal performs, then they create 3-d maps of their racing courses to figure out exactly how the car behaves. and on top of all that, they strap brainwave monitors on their heads to detect stress. i think it is safe to say that as i strapped in for today's test, i'm showing signs of anxiety already. hopefully, we will see pure panic in the brain monitor.
the hack rod team does not start with an off-the-shelf car chassis. they use artificial intelligence software to come up with designs and fabricate them on a 3-d printer. design software and new manufacturing techniques have gotten good enough to allow a small group of people to build custom cars from scratch. mouse: we are getting into this mass world where just design decisions are dictated -- your aesthetic is dictated by some corporate strategy somewhere, and it is like -- that was that hot rodder sort of thing. and a lot of our mission here is going to be about individualization, having your own design, having your own vehicle. ashlee: felix holt used to oversee the hot wheels and matchbox brands for mattel. he is a car junkie who quit the mattel gig to start hack rod with mouse. felix: we think this will be the first chassis that has been engineered with artificial intelligence.
ashlee: that ai sucks up data collected from the desert field test. felix gives it a few guidelines, and it spits out a body design. he tests it, feeds the data back in, and gets an even better car out. what used to take years and hundreds of engineers can now be done in a matter of months, or so hack rod hopes to prove. felix: we both come from that hot rod culture, that hacker culture. we looked at this like, look, we are not ford or ferrari or whoever. we don't have hundreds of engineers to start designing a chassis from the ground up. there is a real democratization of creativity and design going on that we stand for. ♪ ashlee: this car is called the mule. it was the first built using hackrod technology, and it has been utterly abused by mouse over the course of three days. soon it will be time to head
back to l.a. and let the computers do their work toith m. what is your vision for where this company is in, like, five years? mouse: in five years, i think we will have been a significant driver in the automatic manufacturing world that is coming. ashlee: after spending a couple of days at trona, getting covered in grease and dust -- so much dust -- i plotted my escape from the mojave. my final stop would be las vegas. given the nature of this trip, i could not just hop into any old honda. i needed something special, something that would leave a mark on sin city, so i hit up an old friend who happens to have his own homemade self-driving car. problem solved. >> we were a couple of miles out
of barstow when the acid kicked in. ashlee: where hunter s. thompson had dr. gonzo as a companion, i have this guy, george hotz. he comes with less drugs but plenty of fear and loathing. hotz became famous as a teenager for hacking everything in sight. he hacked the iphone. he hacked the sony playstation. he has the legal fees to prove it. and now, he is hacking cars. he stunned the world last year by building this self-driving car by himself in his san francisco garage in just a couple of months. ♪ ashlee: i visited him back then to see his acura, packed full of cameras, radars, and artificial intelligence software. unlike the teslas and googles of the world, hotz does not give his cars a litany of rules to follow. he basically just drives the thing, and the car learns to
mimic the behavior, and does so better and better over time. george: don't go to the exit. don't do it. i know you want to. i know you want to. i know you see that exit. good job, car. don't do it. ashlee: hotz hasn't bested "knight rider" yet, but has achieved hasselhoff-esque heights of confidence. meanwhile, back on the road to vegas -- george: soon, we will probably be able to drive without radar. ashlee: just using the camera? george: just using the camera. and cameras, like our cell phone, that camera is good enough to drive the car. i can keep bashing everyone like i am the underdog, but am i really the underdog? i have a working, self-driving car. ashlee: not everyone appreciates hotz's unique brand of gusto. the california dmv, for example, recently told hotz to quit driving his experiment on the state's roads. this is why we had to head to the nevada border where the true
freedom of the mojave lives on. we are getting close to the border. george: we are getting close to the border. i will press the button once we hit the border. ♪ ashlee: why can't we do it in california? george: they don't like innovation. nevada loves innovation. that's what i heard. that's what i heard. oh, i see the sign. i see the sign. ashlee: prepare to engage. george: on your command, captain. ashlee: all right, here we go, welcome to nevada. the silver state. george: 3, 2, 1. we are self driving. ashlee: ding! hotz's car had never seen the nevada roads before, but it drove perfectly on its own for miles. that is, until the desert sun dipped down, casting shadows ro the road. george: this is actually the worst time of day foit. the contrast is not very good. the sun is so bright still, and the road is so dim.
and look, you see, now, you can't drive. wow. really, i can't see anything in the picture. this is really bad. ashlee: what does this make you think? is this something you can fix over time? george: a lot of this has to do with camera. a lot of the bug right now is just because the camera can't see. ♪ ashlee: what does this make you ashlee: as we finally made our way onto the vegas strip, i tried to cheer him up. well, let's just see what happens. ♪ george: it might go too soon. it might go too soon. oh, no. it sees him there. it sees him there. yeah! go, car, go! ashlee: here we go. woo! george: woo! ♪ george: don't hit the van. don't hit the van. ashlee: ah, nice. very nice. george: that was closer than it should have gone.
ashlee: hotz's car passed the test, and his existential angst lifted. the legend of dr. hotz lives on. feeling better now? george: yeah, that was good. that was good. ♪ ashlee: it is easy to be cynical these days and knock america. it is the place with the tubby people who forgot how to make things and who don't like to get their hands dirty anymore. but then you come somewhere like mojave and receive a stark reminder that some of america's most endearing elements remain alive and well. it is in the middle of all this nothingness, that passion -- pure passion -- has the chance to thrive. if the cynics want to remain
cynical, that is fine, but if they don't, they should put on some sunscreen, buy a pair of goggles, and take a trip out to the desert to see what happens when creative adults get a giant playground. ♪ ashlee: up next on "hello world," i will trade in the desert for the beaches and rain forests of australia. i will go for a swim with a robot, pet a dinosaur,nd g my spelunk on. ♪
♪ haslinda: hello and welcome to "high flyers," the show that gives you a 360 degree preview of asia's business elite. today, we are joined today by one of the world's leading chefs. after running his trade at top restaurants in europe, and moved to the u.s. he has gained attention of the hollywood elite, so much so that he hosted the oscars dinner more than 20 times. let's meet wolfgang puck.